Friday, September 28, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
With that photo, I'm not sure I would be breaking down doors to bake this cake either. It looks so...messy.
I don't deny that there's a lot of topping to contend with, but it's worth every morsel of chocolate and every flake of coconut you're forced to pluck from the tabletop. This cake has appeared at potlucks, travelled to work and was, once upon a time, the inaugural dessert of the little book club that could.
On May 19, 2004, I sent out this email to a few close friends marked: idea?
I've noticed in talking with all of you one-on-one
that we've all got something in common: we all seem to
read a lot. That got me thinking, and eventually led
to my latest and greatest idea -- a book club!
What I'm envisioning is a book every month or 6 weeks
or however often people would be interested in doing
it -- nothing too strenuous and something that would
leave time for people to read other stuff. We could
rotate the discussion spot at different people's
houses and have potlucks (dessert potlucks?!), or use
other venues as deemed appropriate.
I'm open to suggestions for how it could all work, as
well as to suggestions for others to invite along.
With a few more people involved, it would work better
in case 1 or 2 people have a really busy month or
Anyways, let me know if you're interested OR if you
think I'm out to lunch and should stop acting like a
After a coffee shop meeting in early June to meet and greet, a book was chosen and a date was set. In late July 2004, 7 giggly girls gathered for a potluck dinner with our copies of Small Island in hand.
Early on, it was clear that the book was merely a bit player in our book club; a diversion from the good food and company around the table. Looking back at that initial email and the hopeful mention of dessert potlucks, I should have seen the writing on the wall. We spent more time debating the merits of chocolate bars and cooking magazines than discussing themes or character development, and I loved every minute of it.
At one point there was talk of compiling the potluck recipes into a little cookbook for family and friends, to which one enthusiastic member -- tongue firmly in cheek -- responded:
Of course I think we should think "BIG". I have visions of us selling this to a publisher, and then doing a book tour, and perhaps the talk show circuit...
Three plus years and too many books to count later, I'm no longer a regular attendee at the little book club that could. Some members have gone and new ones have come.
There isn't a cookbook, but we've still got the recipes.
Appy Chip Cake
Mix together using a pastry blender:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine
Note: Reserve one cup of mixture for Bowl 4 (see below).
1 ¼ cups apple sauce, unsweetened
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of mixture reserved from Bowl 1
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped pecans (I used sliced almonds here, but best to stick with the pecans)
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9"x13" pan and set aside.
Add the contents of Bowl 2 to Bowl 1 and mix well. Add Bowl 3 to Bowl 1 and mix lightly.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the batter with the contents of Bowl 4.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Source: Mom's recipe file.
Labels: Cakes and cupcakes
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
A Puffed Wheat Square to start the week and some Rise-and-Shine, Get-Up-and-Go Granola to carry me through to the weekend. With a hefty dose of thick golden cane syrup, this recipe risked being *gasp* too sweet for breakfast. Luckily the tangy lemon and buttery walnut swept in to save the day and save me from a mid-morning sugar slump.
Now if only I had a handful of golden raisins or dried pineapple rings to really take the rise-and-shine theme to its extreme. There is that dried fruit store just down the street. Hmmmm.
Excuse me for a minute.
Rise-and-Shine, Get-Up-and-Go Granola
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons Roger's golden syrup (cane syrup)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter and syrup. Heat over medium heat just until the butter melts. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Combine the oats, salt, nuts and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add the hot syrup mixture and stir until well coated.
Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden, stirring halfway through.
Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet. Crumble the mixture into an airtight container and store at room temperature.
Source: Inspired by the Macademia Maple Granola recipe posted on Chocolate & Zucchini.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
My parents have come and gone in a whirlwind of Roger's golden syrup and jam, sightseeing and dinners out. After a week of eating well (both in terms of quality and quantity), the dust and my stomach are slowly beginning to settle. In search of a light, easy snack to begin the new week, I dug deep into the recipe archives to bring it back to the old school.
I had a tentative childhood relationship with Puffed Wheat Squares, unable to come down clearly for or against the sticky treat. Sure there was the sweet cocoa coating, but fundamentally my mother was trying to pass off grains as dessert. Then we moved away from the farm and, as a city kid, Puffed Wheat Squares disappeared from my lexicon.*
Thanks to S., my Saskatchewan housemate at university, the square and I were reintroduced. This time, I had no qualms about declaring my affection. You could chalk it up to nostalgia, but let's give taste and texture the credit they're due. Think Rice Krispie squares, but chocolate and chewy.
Puffed Wheat Squares
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups puffed wheat
Measure out puffed wheat in a heatproof bowl. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set both aside.
Combine butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes before removing from heat. Add vanilla and stir briefly to combine.
Pour the hot mixture over the puffed wheat and quickly stir to coat evenly. Pour the coated cereal into the greased baking pan and use a damp spoon or hands to press the mixture evenly into the pan.
Cool and slice.
*Strange but true: In my experience, Puffed Wheat Squares (also called Puffed Wheat Cake) is a distinctly rural Canadian phenomenon. Nearly everyone I meet who is familiar with the square hails from Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Discuss.
Labels: Bars and squares
Monday, September 10, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Zucchini season has nearly come and gone with nary a peep from me on the subject. After a lifetime of indifference, I've developed quite a love affair with this sun-seeking squash in the past few years. In fact, I can't imagine a dish of roasted vegetables without it. But surely a baker, even a casual one, wouldn't bypass the kitchen for the grill and neglect to introduce her zucchini to the rest of the appliances. Mixer, anyone?
As all good people know, chocolate is a worthwhile addition to most everything. So to christen my shiny new loaf pan and show zucchini what my kitchen can do, I whipped up some simple but tasty Marbled Chocolate Zucchini Bread.
Fresh from the oven, you're rewarded with a crunchy crust and steaming moist crumb. Overnight, the loaf gives up its crusty exterior and the ingredients let loose and mingle. It's only then that you'll catch the spicy chocolate flavour you probably missed in your greedy haste the night before.
Tell me though, would you really expect anything less than a go-to loaf from a stand-up veggie like zucchini?
Marbled Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (green skin and all, undrained)
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease or line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, oil sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in grated zucchini.
In another medium bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix well.
Use a kitchen scale (if you have one) or your eyeballs (I know you have those) to divide the flour mixture evenly between two bowls. To one bowl, add 2 tablespoons flour; to the other, 2 tablespoons cocoa.
Now, using the same process, divide the wet ingredients in half between the two bowls of dry ingredients. Stir each bowl until smooth. You should have one chocolate cake batter and one plain cake batter.
Drop batter by the spoonful into the prepared pan, alternating between chocolate and plain until both are gone. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Note: If scales and dishes aren't for you, opt for a chocolate zucchini loaf minus the marbling. Simply add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the dry ingredient mixture and then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Try adding chocolate chips to boost the chocolate flavour even more.
Source: Adapted from this recipe posted on RecipeZaar.
Labels: Muffins and quick breads
Monday, September 03, 2007
Now where were we exactly before I got sidetracked by life, work and beavertails? Right, first there was the Dulce de Leche, followed by some Tricked Out Banana Bread and the promise of alfajores to come.
It seems like an eternity ago that I smacked my powdered lips on these fine specimens and, because of that, half of me is feeling a bit guilty for writing this. I have the sense that there is an expiry date on blogability, after which point you risk being perceived as disingenuous by your readers.
But then the other half (the angel? the devil? on my shoulder) reasons that it would be selfish and borderline irresponsible of me not to share these cookies. And if there's one thing I don't want to be, it's irresponsible. So alfajores pour tout le monde!
With copious amounts of cornstarch among the ingredients, the dough for these cookies can be a bit challenging to shape and roll. But damp hands can do wonders for creating cohesion where none appears to exist. And I have faith in your abilities with a rolling pin. Just don't take as long to make them as I did to tell you about them.
Notes: Roll in coconut, dip in chocolate, or keep it simple stupid. Either way, don't skimp on the lemon zest, and let your cookies cool completely before spreading them with dulce de leche to avoid the (delicious) gooeyness pictured above.
Source: This post at Pip in the city.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
While I gather my thoughts on alfajores, use your leftover pizza dough to bake a batch of savoury bread rolls.
A smear of garlic butter, a sprinkling of herbs and fresh parmesan, and a handful of sliced sundried tomatoes rolled up like cinnamon buns and served alongside soup or salad.